Pasta with Spinach, Easy and Quick!

If you live a busy lifestyle, there’s not always a lot of time to cook. After getting home after a long, hard day at work, you don’t want to waste time wondering what to cook for dinner that evening.

If you’re looking for easy and quick midweek meal inspiration, then this pasta with spinach sauce is for you. 

In this article, I give you a step-by-step guide on how to make an easy pasta dish that allows you to get dinner on the table in no time at all! 

So, let’s get started. 

Life can get busy, and you don’t always have the time to experiment with food. This pasta with spinach sauce couldn’t be easier to make and will become a staple in your household once you see how quickly it is to cook!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make the dish in the time that it takes to cook pasta! While the pasta is boiling, you simply need to saute the fresh spinach in olive oil and plenty of fragrant garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients. It couldn’t be easier! 

Spinach is also a highly nutritious superfood to incorporate into a midweek meal, but what are some of the benefits of eating spinach?

Benefits of regularly eating spinach 

Namely, spinach contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K1, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Most of the carbs in spinach consist of fiber, which can help promote good digestion and digestive health.

Additionally, spinach has been associated with the possibility of suppressing cancer. One of the main reasons for this is that spinach contains two components, MGDG and SQDG, which may slow down cancer growth. Alongside this, spinach contains antioxidants, which might suppress cancer and fight oxidative stress while helping to reduce the damage stress causes.

Spinach contains high amounts of nitrates, which have been shown to help moderate blood pressure levels and decrease your risk of heart disease

Now you know a bit more about the benefits of eating spinach, below is the ingredient list that you’ll need for this easy and quick pasta with spinach recipe. 

Ingredients that you will need

  • Pasta - For this recipe, I use penne pasta, but you can use whatever pasta you have available in the cupboard or larder. Note: the cooking times could vary depending on which pasta you opt for, so make sure that you follow the instructions on the back if you choose a different one.
  • Baby spinach - As an excellent source of iron and vitamin C, spinach is also incredibly quick to cook and compliments this recipe perfectly.
  • Cream cheese - Cream cheese acts as the base for the creamy sauce of this dish. It’s rich, indulgent, and makes any sauce deliciously silky! 
  • Parmesan cheese - For the cheesy flavor, you can’t beat adding parmesan cheese to a recipe. It complements the cream cheese whilst contributing to the flavor of the dish.
  • Olive oil - Olive oil is essential for the sauteeing process!
  • Garlic - Garlic is a huge part of the flavor profile of this dish, and makes the creamy sauce absolutely irresistible.
  • Nutmeg - Nutmeg adds a subtle flavor and warmth to the dish, ground, or freshly grated.
  • Salt and cracked black pepper - Salt and cracked black pepper is crucial to season this dish to perfection!

A guide on how to make pasta with spinach

Ingredients 

Pasta

  • 8oz (225 grams) pasta (penne, spaghetti, rigatoni)

Spinach sauce

  • 9oz (250 grams) baby spinach, washed
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, with more to serve.
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely sliced or minced.
  • 5oz (140 grams) of cream cheese.
  • 1oz (30 grams) of freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve.
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, or ⅓ of freshly grated nutmeg, or according to taste.
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste.
  • ¼ teaspoon of fine salt, with more to taste.

Instructions 

  • To begin this recipe, you will need to start by cooking your pasta until al dente. Be sure to follow the package instructions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat.
  • Take a chopping board and finely chop the garlic or mince it ready to add to the pan.
  • Once the pan has come to temperature, add the garlic and cook for around 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic smells fragrant. Be careful to watch the pan to ensure that you do not burn the garlic.
  • Next, add a handful of spinach to the pan and season with salt. Wait until the spinach begins to wilt before you add in another handful. Stir until all of the spinach has wilted in the pan.
  • Once all of the spinach has wilted but is still bright green, stir the cream cheese. At this point, you can take ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Add around ⅓ of the pasta water, but reserve the rest of it in case you want to loosen the sauce later on.
  • Remove the pasta from the heat once it has cooked and drain. Set aside for now.
  • Add the grated parmesan cheese and the nutmeg to the spinach sauce and stir thoroughly. Leave to cook for a further few minutes.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir thoroughly to combine. 
  • Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and black pepper. 
  • Enjoy!

Tips and notes on cooking pasta with spinach 

Wilt the spinach in handfuls 

Heat the olive oil and fresh garlic in a large pan. A large pan is essential, as it provides you with a large surface area for the spinach to wilt. 

When the garlic starts to smell fragrant, add the spinach, handful by handful. The amount of the spinach will look like a lot in the beginning, but it will wilt quickly, allowing room to add more. Add the spinach a handful at a time, season with salt, and stir the pan until all of the spinach has wilted. 

Parmesan cheese is key 

As pasta recipes go, this isn’t a super heavy recipe that is packed full of cheese and cream. For a midweek meal for the whole family, you want a recipe that is delicious without being calorie-dense. 

The pasta cooking water and cream cheese create a beautifully silky sauce without the need for adding a tonne of unnecessary calories with heavy cream. Although adding cream is indulgent and delicious to incorporate into your recipes every now and then, for a regular recipe I find that it’s too heavy and can quickly make a relatively healthy recipe much more fattening. 

That being said, make sure that you add plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese. It makes the difference and provides this super simple dish with a lot of flavor!

Recipe variations 

The great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. You can experiment with it depending on how you feel that particular day by adding different proteins or more vegetables. 

  • Fish - Cooked prawns or grilled or steamed salmon would work beautifully with this creamy white sauce. Alongside this, white fish such as pollock or haddock works well with this recipe, too. Adding fish is a great way to add more protein and white fish are generally lower in fat than processed or red meat.
  • Vegetables - If you wanted to add more vegetables to this dish, you could try adding roasted vegetables, garden peas, or steamed broccoli. The options of the veg you can try with this dish are endless, so if you’re trying to make this recipe with the vegetables that you already have in the refrigerator then it’s a great option for that, too.
  • Meat - Grilled chicken works beautifully with this pasta recipe. You could also try adding bacon or sausages to this dish if you prefer to eat pork. Alternatively, you could use meat that has already been cooked, such as ham or Parma ham, and stir it through the sauce.

Seasoning

I find that 1/4 teaspoon of salt is enough for the sauce. Both the cooking pasta water and parmesan cheese contain salt, so you probably won’t need to add any salt to the spinach sauce. However, this will come down to your personal preference. Bearing this in mind, before adding the pasta, have a taste of the sauce and add more seasoning if you feel like it needs it.

For instance, I personally like a generous amount of cracked black pepper with my pasta, but others might not like it as much as me, so it just depends!

Storing

If you have any leftovers of this dish, it keeps well for a couple of days in the refrigerator stored in an air-tight container. When it comes to reheating the dish on the stove or in the microwave, you might want to add a tiny splash of water to loosen up the sauce as it can become a little thicker when it’s chilled.